Disclaimer - I do not own D Gray Man
The circus that Mana and Allen had been a part of for just under a week was preparing to move on to another city. Normally this would cause the two to move on to a different circus or just perform on their own for awhile but this was not the case this time. Mana had made the decision to travel with the circus to the next town on their list so he and Allen were preparing for the move along with all of the others. And all of the performers, as well as the non performing workers, were breaking down the tents and packing up the equipment.
The two clowns were no exception to this, since everyone was expected to help. They had been given their assigned task and were preparing to get started.
"Alright Allen," Mana said to the small boy who was like his second shadow, always trailing along behind him. As he spoke the older clown waved his arm, gesturing toward a bunch of empty barrels that were stacked up behind one of the tents that had yet to be broken down and packed away. "We have to get these to the other side of the circus grounds so that they can be loaded up."
Allen's gray eyes widened as he looked at the barrels. "All of them?"
It was obvious by the tone of Allen's voice that he didn't really want to do the job. And Mana could understand that because they were large and the job sounded tedious, especially to a young child. So the older clown decided to make this job fun for Allen, in the hopes of getting it done quickly and with as little fuss as possible.
"It won't be so bad Allen," Mana said with a smile, reaching out and knocking over some of the barrels as he spoke. They fell onto their sides with a loud clanging noise and, without warning, Mana leapt into the air and landed lightly on one of them. The barrel began to roll the moment that the clown landed on top of it but Mana was completely unphased. He merely walked along with the rolling barrel, his arms held out so that he could maintain his balance.
Allen's gray eyes lit up in excitement as he watched his foster father actually ride the moving barrel, walking along with it's motion.
It looked like fun to the child.
"Go ahead," Mana said, gesturing toward one of the other barrels as he rolled around in a circle. He could tell, by the look in the child's eyes, that Allen was entranced by his actions and he wanted to include Allen in the fun. Especially since they needed to get this job done as soon as possible. "Give it a try."
Allen looked hesitant for the briefest of moments but then he leapt onto one of the barrels. Which promptly rolled out from under him.
The youth felt himself falling however, at the last possible moment, Allen launched himself into a back flip and landed lightly on the ground. The boy glared at the runaway barrel for the briefest of moments before he jumped onto it once more.
And this time he managed to find the rhythm required to walk along as it rolled across the already trampled grass of the circus grounds.
"Good job," Mana called out, always amazed by his son's perseverance. Once Allen got it into his mind to do something the boy never stopped until he did it.
A trait that Mana had always found admirable.
"But it's still going to take forever," Allen called out, his gaze going briefly to the barrels that they had to move.
"I have an idea," Mana said, a smile forming on his face as he leapt from the barrel that he had been riding. "It won't take long if we roll them across the circus grounds like this. And we can move more than two at a time."
"How?" Allen asked, leaping from his own barrel and landing beside his foster father.
"All we have to do is leap back and forth between them," Mana said as he pushed over the barrels and prepared them for travel. "After all it doesn't take much to keep them moving."
A smile slowly spread across Allen's face as he thought about Mana's proposition. The plan sounded as though it would work and the boy suddenly got an idea.
"Let's make it a contest!" the child exclaimed in an excited voice. "Let's divide the barrels and see who can get them there first."
Mana wasn't entirely certain how this job had turned into a contest but if it helped to motivate his son to get the job done then he was all for it. "Alright then, a contest it is."
And so the two clowns divided up the barrels and then pointed them in the direction that they had to travel. Wagons were assembled on the other side of the circus grounds, which the barrels would be loaded into, assuming Mana and Allen managed to get them there.
"Alright," Mana said as he and Allen prepared to start their little barrel race. "First to the other side of the grounds is the winner. And Allen…"
The boy turned questioning gray eyes toward his foster father. "Yea Mana?"
"Try not to break your neck."
Allen merely scoffed at the older clown, the old familiar look of arrogance appearing on his face for the briefest of moments. "You should probably take your own advice."
"I fully intend to," was Mana's reply.
The two clowns gazed at one another for a moment longer and then Mana pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and held it up. "On your mark… get set… GO!"
Mana dropped the handkerchief, signaling the start of their little race. Both he and Allen quickly worked to get their barrels rolling and then they each leapt onto one of them. It was somewhat difficult going, because the barrels were hard to steer, but the two persisted with the challenge none the less.
And as he leapt from barrel to barrel, making sure that they remained moving and didn't veer off course, Mana cast a glance at his son every now and then.
Tiny drops of sweat had formed on the boy's forehead, owing to the difficulty of controlling the barrels, but the broad smile on Allen's face was enough to tell Mana that he was having a good time.
Mana chuckled softly to himself but, after nearly colliding with a couple of other performers, decided that he should probably keep his attention focused on the path ahead of him.
"It's a good thing that this ground in on a slight downhill slope," Mana thought to himself as he continued to leap from barrel to barrel. "Or this would have been really hard."
Despite his decision to watch the path ahead of him Mana couldn't simply ignore the boy so he glanced over at Allen. "What is it?"
"We have an audience," the brown haired boy said, pointing.
Mana gazed off in the direction that Allen was pointing and he saw that the child was right. It seemed that most of the circus' inhabitants had paused in their work to watch the spectacle.
"Come on Mana! You can do it!"
And judging by the shouts they had figured out that it was a race and each had a favorite.
This new audience of theirs seemed to spawn Allen to move faster and Mana marveled at the speed at which the little boy leapt from barrel to barrel. "I'm going to lose," he found himself thinking as he felt a slight burning begin in his chest.
As the two clowns neared the finish line so to speak they both noticed that the barrels had began to slow somewhat. It seemed that the downhill incline had changed into an uphill slope, which made the going more difficult.
But Mana was grateful none the less. "I was wondering how exactly we were going to stop. Didn't think about that when I started this little game."
Several workers were standing beside the wagons and they all began laughing as the two clowns rolled toward them. The men good naturedly helped Mana and Allen bring the barrels to a stop, wide smiles on all of their faces.
"So who won?" Allen asked, the race having been too close for him to call.
Mana's gaze shifted to the men, all of whom promptly pointed to the boy. "There you have it Allen."
"I won! I won!" The boy jumped up and down in celebration but stopped mid hop as his gaze fell upon an imposing figure walking toward them.
It was the ring master and leader of their little circus troupe.
Mana could tell that the child was intimidated by the ring master and he quickly positioned himself between Allen and the man. He met the ring master's gaze squarely as the man came to a stop before him.
He was expecting for the man to be angry but that turned out to not be the case. "That was one of the most entertaining things that I've ever seen. You should work that into your act Mana."
And without another word the ring master walked off, chuckling to himself as he made his way across the circus grounds.
"That really was fun Mana," Allen said in a quiet voice, gazing up at Mana with bright gray eyes.
"I'm glad that you had fun," Mana said, reaching out and tousling the boy's brown hair. "And we managed to get our work done in the process."
Allen smiled brightly, having almost forgotten that they were actually doing work. The race had been so much fun that he had completely forgotten that moving the barrels was a chore.
A/N - this one-shot was requested by, and is dedicated to, Angel Fantasy. Hope that you all enjoyed!